Tails were wagging everywhere one looked as nearly 100 dog lovers and supporters — and their dogs — hit the trail at Hidden Mesa Open Space in Franktown to support the safety of two of the Douglas County’s Sheriff’s Office’s five working dogs.
The Wag Your Tail dog walk and barbecue June 22 helped raise $3,000 of the necessary $4,500 to purchase Kevlar vests for Zoos and Doc, the two newest dogs in the unit.
The event, organized by the Friends of Douglas County K-9 Foundation, was used not only to raise money for the vests, but to educate the public on the K-9 unit.
“We wouldn’t be able to have the necessary tools we need to be successful and safe if it wasn’t for the donations we receive,” said Deputy Greg Black, who had the unfortunate experience of having one of his dogs wounded by gunfire in the past.
While the sheriff’s department funds many of the necessary items for the dogs, the foundation formed in 2011 to help take care of other costs, such as the purchase of bulletproof vests and the continuation of veterinary care for the retired dogs.
“We saw a need to help replace the dogs that were retiring, to help care for the retired dogs and that the dogs need equipment,” said veterinarian David Swieckowski, who has been caring for the county’s dogs at the Franktown Animal Clinic for 17 years.
In the past two years, the foundation has raised close to $176,000 to help the Douglas County K-9 Unit attend outside trainings with some of the world’s top trainers; purchase training equipment, supplies and veterinary care; and purchase Zoos, Doc and the third-newest member of the unit, Tank.
In addition to the important police work the dogs do, Deputy Paul Montville said the most important aspect of their jobs is “their ability to be ice breakers and act like a go-between” between the officers and the public at events such as the barbecue, where the officers and their dogs put on a full demonstration and fielded questions about what it is like in the field, living with their dogs and more.
The county’s K-9 unit, established in 1989, is used primarily for narcotics work as well as some patrol work, helping deputies locate and catch suspects.
“We are on call 24 hours, seven days a week,” Black said. “We’re basically paid chauffeurs. When that call comes in at 4 a.m. they don’t care about us, just the dogs.”
If interested in donating to the Friends of Douglas County K-9 Foundation or learning more about the unit or foundation, please visit www.K9friends.org.
K-9 Unit by the numbers 2011-12:
3,443 proactive deployments
2,159 building searches
708 officer protection deployments
405 assists on arrests
67,833 grams of marijuana located
194 grams of hard drugs located
342 discoveries of drug paraphernalia
$33,294 in cash found